Former GM PR Head: ‘The Endgame Was to Survive and to Have a Measure of Credible Reputation Left’

This post was written by Nancy Lazarus, consultant and new contributor to PRNewser.

Chris Preuss, the new President of General Motors’ OnStar system and former Vice President of Global Communications at the automaker, provided a detailed account of what General Motors went through from a public relations perspective during its restructuring and bankruptcy.

He spoke candidly to an audience at a conference on Social Reputation Management offered by BDI (Business Development Institute) in New York on Wednesday morning.

According to Preuss, General Motors’ trials and tribulations were so widespread they had to plan for multiple scenarios among different audiences. One goal was to keep dealers reassured and focused on selling cars while also minimizing the disruption to their business relationships.

The company also had to work closely with government officials and prepare various contingency plans. Keeping the media informed was another major undertaking, though as Preuss said, “The situation was so dire than even the media got tired of writing about us.”

General Motors’ greatest challenge was to regain trust among consumers, and social media became a key channel for outreach. The company established a social media war room and went public with their message in an effort to humanize GM.

They created the GMreinvention Web site, launched the FastLane company blog, and encouraged employees to communicate through Yammer.

When asked about dealing with individuals who seemed intent on sabotaging GM, Preuss said their approach was to confront the issues directly and not let mis-perceptions persist.